The idea behind collaboration tools like SharePoint is that you can store documents in files where anyone who’s working on them with you has access to them. You, in turn, can access any files other people have worked on should you need them. Each individual worker has his or her own site, and each department has a shared site. The upside is that everyone is working on the same documents, so you don’t have to worry about multiple versions circulating. Plus, uploading a document to a shared folder or site is usually the simplest way to make sure everyone has access to it—as opposed to emailing it to them all individually. The downside is that the sheer volume of content can quickly become overwhelming. Even with great search tools, locating any single document in the welter of similarly titled documents across several sites can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor. The idea behind Delve, though, is to make it so you’ll seldom have to do any searching at all.
How it works
Instead of you having to dig around for the documents you need, Delve predicts which content you’re most likely to need on a given day and presents it to you automatically. Delve relies on a Microsoft “machine learning” technology called Office Graph, a cloud system that pulls in information from the different services in Office 365, including Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, and even Yammer. Graph maps out the relationships between all the people in your organization, including the documents they’re working on, even if they're stored in separate data siloes. Delve uses these maps to determine which content to prioritize in your feed. So, if you have a meeting with Carol at 10 o’clock that day, Delve will pull up the latest document you and Carol were working on together and put it at the top of your feed.
What it looks like
When you open Delve, you see something that looks similar to a social media platform. (It’s been compared to Pinterest). Each piece of content is presented on cards that run in columns down the screen, and each card displays likes, views, comments, and tags. Interactions with the content like likes and comments are also factored into what ends up on your Delve page, so you can see which documents are trending. In a window on the left side of the page, you see options for either “Home,” which is the feed for the company as a whole, “My work,” which is the feed for all the content you’ve been working on, and “Shared with me,” which is all the content you’re coworkers have given you access to. You’ll also see a list of the people you most frequently work with, and you can click on their names to see what they’re working on. At the top of the window is a search field whose autocomplete function works with either names or content.
Earlier this month, Microsoft released a new feature for Delve that allows you to create boards for content in your feed. Each card now has an “Add to board” button at the bottom, which makes it easy to group and share content so it will be even simplier to find. You may for instance create a board for all the content associated with a particular project, or it may be all the content a specified group of people will be interested in. Again with boards, it seems like Microsoft is taking their cue from social media to help us organize our files according to people, activities, and groups. But behind the easily scrollable feed is a bunch of analytic technology that will, if we’re lucky, go a long way toward helping us deal with the ever-increasing amount of information we seem to be having to work with all the time.
You can check out this quick video to see Delve and Boards in action: